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(LEAD) Minnesota Twins win bidding for left-hander Yang Hyeon-jong: source

2014/11/23 16:23

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Nov. 23 (Yonhap) -- The Minnesota Twins have won the bidding war for the posted South Korean left-hander Yang Hyeon-jong, an informed baseball source told Yonhap News Agency on Sunday.

The source, who's familiar with the posting process, confirmed an earlier U.S. report that the Twins had submitted the highest bid for Yang. He has been pitching for the Kia Tigers in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) since 2007 and became eligible for posting after the 2014 season.

The value of the Twins' bid has not been announced. Multiple industry sources offered a wide range of estimates, with some saying the figure could be in the neighborhood of US$1.5 million and others saying the Twins might have offered as little as $700,000. They all agreed that Yang appears to have attracted a smaller bid than SK Wyverns' left-hander Kim Kwang-hyun, the first KBO player to be posted this offseason, who drew $2 million from the San Diego Padres.

The KBO first informed the Tigers of the result of the MLB-wide silent auction on Saturday, without disclosing the amount of the highest bid or the winner of the bidding. The Tigers have four business days in which to accept the bid, and they're said to be disappointed with the size of the bid.

If the Tigers do accept, the Twins will have 30 days to negotiate with the 26-year-old pitcher. If they don't, Yang will be off the MLB market and can't be posted again until Nov. 1, 2015.

If Yang and the Twins reach a deal, the Tigers will pocket the money the Twins submitted in the bid.

Earlier on Sunday, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported that the Twins had won the bid for Yang.

The Tigers and Yang are scheduled to meet Sunday to discuss their next steps. Yang, too, has expressed his disappointment with the amount of the bid, but he already asked the club on Saturday to accept it so that he can pursue his dream of pitching in the majors.

The Tigers' officials have said they will try to reach their decision as soon as possible but admitted it won't be an easy one to make. The team had earlier declared that it would accept a bid for Yang as long as it was of "a reasonable amount," but never specified the monetary figure.

Yang and the Tigers' brass sat down to talk about the situation on Sunday in Gwangju, the team's home city 330 kilometers south of Seoul, but couldn't come to a conclusion. According to the Tigers' officials, Yang reiterated his desire to pitch in the majors.

In response, the team officials told him that they needed more time to review the situation.

The KBO has said it plans to inform the MLB of the Tigers' decision by 7 a.m. next Friday, Korean time.

"It seemed like Yang had a lot to think about over the past couple of days," one official from the Tigers said. "He said he wanted to listen to what others around him had to say. From the team's perspective, we also have plenty to think about. He's one of the best pitchers in the country and we have to decide just how much he deserves to be paid to go overseas."

   The Twins, meanwhile, could use any pitching help they can get. In 2014, they ranked last among 15 American League teams with a 4.57 ERA and a .280 opponents' batting average. Those figures were 29th and 30th among all 30 MLB teams, respectively.

Yang Hyeon-jong of the Kia Tigers. (Yonhap file photo) Yang Hyeon-jong of the Kia Tigers. (Yonhap file photo)

Yang is the second KBO player to be posted this offseason, after the Wyverns' pitcher Kim. The Wyverns accepted the Padres' bid of $2 million, and the Padres and Kim have until Dec. 11 to work out a contract.

In 2014, Yang went 16-8 with a 4.25 ERA in 29 starts, spanning a career-high 171 1/3 innings. He struck out 165 and walked 77.

He was named the inaugural winner of the Choi Dong-won Award, named after a late former All-Star pitcher to recognize the best South Korean pitcher each season based on their win-loss records, quality starts and innings pitched, among other categories.

For his career, Yang has gone 62-42 with a 4.33 ERA, along with 748 strikeouts and 455 walks in 866 2/3 innings. Some U.S. media reports have projected him as a No. 3 starter in the majors, while some scouts consider him more of a back-of-the-rotation starter.

A third player from the KBO, Nexen Heroes' shortstop Kang Jung-ho, has said he will likely ask his current team to post him by mid-December.

So far, Ryu Hyun-jin, a left-handed starter for the Los Angeles Dodgers, remains the only South Korean to make the jump from the KBO to the majors via posting. The Dodgers bid $25.7 million for the negotiating rights with Ryu, and signed him to a six-year, $36 million contract.

jeeho@yna.co.kr

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